Colorado Governor Signs Psychedelics Bill

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law on May 23 that established a regulatory framework for psychedelic substances. 

SB23-290, also called Natural Medicine Regulation and Legalization, was signed just a few weeks after it was approved in the Senate with House amendments. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Steven Fenberg and Rep. Judy Amabile, and is set to take effect starting on July 1.

The Colorado Times Recorder spoke with Tasia Poinsatte, director of the Healing Advocacy Fund of Colorado, last month about the bill’s potential. “Our state is facing a mental health crisis, and our current system has been unable to meet the needs of those who are struggling, including the many veterans in our state who are at a high risk of suicide,” said Poinsatte. “Colorado voters agreed with the passage of Prop. 122 that we need to open new, innovative pathways to healing for those who are struggling with mental health conditions.”

The law doesn’t place limitations on personal possession for any psychedelic substance, ranging from dimethyltryptamine (DMT), mescaline, ibogaine, psilocybin, or psilocin. Psilocybin and psilocin will be administered at “healing centers,” but it does allow other substances to be added later.

The bill also states that anyone under 21 who possesses or consumes a natural medicine product will only be subject to a fine of $100 or less, and a maximum of four hours of “substance use education or counseling.” More than one offense results in the same fine and education requirement, with an added 24 hours of “useful public service.”

The cultivation of natural medicine is permitted if it’s happening on a person’s private property within a 12-by-12-foot space. However, anyone who is not licensed and “knowingly manufactures [a] natural medicine product using an inherently hazardous substance” is committing a level 2 drug felony. An “inherently hazardous substance” refers to solvents such as butane, propane, and diethyl ether.

The bill also includes protections for consumers, stating that a person using a natural medicine doesn’t solely constitute as child abuse or neglect, is not grounds for being denied health coverage, doesn’t disqualify a person to be discriminated against if they’re eligible for organ donation, and “must not be considered for public assistance benefits eligibility.”

A person with a natural medicine conviction is also eligible to have the conviction record sealed “immediately after the later date of final disposition or release from supervision.”

The bill calls for the creation of a natural medicine advisory board to examine “issues related to natural medicine and natural medicine product, and making recommendations to the director of the division of professions and occupations and the executive director of the state licensing authority.” It also requires the creation of a division of natural medicine to be established within the department of revenue to regulate licensing for “cultivation, manufacturing, testing, storage, distribution, transport, transfer, and dispensation of natural medicine or natural medicine product between natural medicine licensees.”

Colorado voters passed Proposition 122, also referred to as the Natural Medicine Health Act, by 52.64% last November to decriminalize psychedelics. “This is a historic moment for both the people of Colorado and our country,” said Natural Medicine Colorado coalition director Kevin Matthews. “I think this demonstrates that voters here in Colorado are ready for new options and another choice for healing, especially when it comes to their mental and behavioral health.”

The initiative took effect in December 2022. “Coloradans voted last November and participated in our democracy,” said Polis. “Officially validating the results of the citizen and referred initiatives is the next formal step in our work to follow the will of the voters and implement these voter-approved measures.”

Coverage from Westword shows that advocates aren’t happy with the law, stating that it’s too restrictive. According to sponsor Amabile, the bill is solid but won’t make everyone happy. “My takeaway from the testimony is that ballot measure 122 is controversial,” Amabile said at a meeting in late April. “It has a lot of aspects that some people like. It has aspects that the people who like some parts of it don’t like. It has parts that nobody likes.”

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Week in Review: Singapore’s Shame; 420 Sales Hit $100 Million

In this week’s cannabis round-up, Singapore executes Tangaraju Suppiah for cannabis delivery; Delaware legalizes adult use cannabis in an unusual way; Colorado announces new funding opportunities for cannabis businesses; put your best foot forward in CBD sneakers and record sales reported for this year’s 420.

Singapore Executes Man Accused of Cannabis Trafficking

Even though he wasn’t found in possession of any cannabis, Singapore has executed a man accused of organizing a cannabis delivery. In 2018, the 46-year-old Tangaraju Suppiah received a death sentence for his role in the trafficking of slightly more than two pounds of cannabis. Trafficking cannabis in excess of a pound is punishable by death in Singapore.

Suppiah was hanged on Wednesday despite his family’s pleadings for mercy and protests from campaigners who claimed the evidence used to convict him was insufficient. He was identified by the prosecution as the person in charge of organizing the drug deliveries through phone numbers. However, Suppiah had insisted that he wasn’t in contact with the other people involved in the case.

Nations Human Rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani called on the Singapore government to adopt a “formal moratorium” on executions for drug-related offenses at a briefing on Tuesday.

“Imposing the death penalty for drug offenses is incompatible with international norms and standards,” Shamdasani said, adding that increasing evidence shows the death penalty is ineffective as a deterrent, a direct contrast to Singapore’s claims. The island state has carried out 11 executions in the last year alone for drug-related arrests.

PHOTO railwayfx

Delaware Becomes Latest State to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis

Delaware became the 22nd state to legalize adult-use cannabis on April 23 with a rather unusual twist: Gov. John Carney didn’t sign the bills into law. Instead, the Democratic governor let the laws pass without his signature as he still opposes legalization in the First State.

Gov. Carney has been a strident opponent of legalization during his six years in office, even though some 60% of his state’s constituents support the legalization of cannabis for adult use. However, on April 21, he released a written statement saying that although his position remains unchanged, he wouldn’t veto a bill to legalize the use, possession or transportation of up to one ounce of cannabis. He also said he won’t veto the bill that created a regulated retail market, stating that there are more pressing issues for the state.

“As I’ve consistently said, I believe the legalization of recreational marijuana isn’t a step forward,” Gov. Carney said in a statement. “I support both medical marijuana and Delaware’s decriminalization law because no one should go to jail for possessing a personal-use quantity of marijuana. And today, they don’t. I want to be clear that my views on this issue haven’t changed. And I understand there are those who share my views who’ll be disappointed in my decision not to veto this legislation. I came to this decision because I believe we’ve spent far too much time focused on this issue when Delawareans face more serious and pressing concerns every day. It’s time to move on.”

His inaction is a change from his veto of a legalization bill supported by other Democrats last year. The result was an unsuccessful attempt by House Democrats to overturn the veto.

Combined, House Bills One and Two permit adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce (28 grams) of flower, 12 grams of concentrates or products containing up to 750 milligrams of THC. Public consumption and possession of more than an ounce of marijuana would still be considered crimes as does home cultivation for personal use. Delaware may provide up to 30 initial licenses for retail sales, 30 for manufacturing, 60 for growing and 5 for testing. Specific licensing pools are included for social equity and microbusiness applicants.

PHOTO spyrakot

Colorado Announces Landmark Statewide Cannabis Loan Program

Gov. Jared Polis and the Cannabis Business Office (CBO) within the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT) announced on April 24 a new funding source for social equity licensed cannabis businesses in Colorado. The Cannabis Business Loan Program (CBLP) is created in partnership between CBO and mission-based lender NuProject to provide financing that isn’t otherwise available to cannabis businesses through traditional lenders.

The CBLP will operate as a revolving loan fund by NuProject and the CBO. The interest earned on the loans will be reinvested into the fund to assist future borrowers as they are repaid. Over the following decade, the initial $1 million investment is anticipated to lend $2.9 million, creating and maintaining significant jobs in Colorado.

“This landmark loan program will create and retain 239 good-paying jobs and promote equity in the cannabis industry by providing growing businesses access to funding. I’m committed to saving small businesses money and ensuring our state remains a great place to start and run a business in every industry,” said Gov. Polis in a statement.

Traditional funding options for small businesses are typically unavailable within the cannabis industry, making it harder for cannabis business owners obtain capital for expansion. The CBLP will offer loans between $50,000 and $150,000 for remodeling or expansions, the acquisition of equipment, real estate or usage as operating capital to help close this funding gap. The loans will have manageable conditions based on the demands of the borrower.

The CBLP is the third CBO funding source available for Colorado’s social equity licensed cannabis businesses. The Cannabis Business Grant, introduced in 2021, offers $50,000 Growth Grants to assist current cannabis firms as they expand or improve their operations and $25,000 Foundational Grants to support early-stage cannabis businesses with their startup needs. The new CBLP program will expedite the expansion of larger, more established cannabis enterprises.

Photo courtesy of 8000Kicks

8000Kicks Debut First Shoe Made from CBD Flower

Hemp footwear brand 8000Kicks has released a limited-edition shoe made from premium ground hemp flower—500g per shoe, to be exact. The Portuguese company collaborated with Royal Queen Seeds and Nisiseltor Studio to create 100 pairs of Weedo sneakers.

“We’re excited to partner with 8000Kicks and Nisiseltor Studio to bring this exclusive product to our customers,” Shai Ramsahai, CEO of Royal Queen Seeds said.

In addition to hemp flower, the shoes are made with other sustainable materials, including hemp and organic cotton blend laces, hemp insoles and a hemp interior, with a water-based glue securing the materials together. Each shoe is reported to take up to 30 hours to make.

“This limited-edition shoe is a one-of-a-kind product that showcases our commitment to innovation and client demand,” CEO of 8000Kicks, Bernardo Carreira, said. “We believe that this idea will surprise our customers who are looking for a more eccentric pair.”

Cannabis Sales Hit $100 Million on 420

Headset, a cannabis data and market intelligence solution that focuses on retail trends, consumer insights and purchasing behavior, has released a special 420 report showing market insights and cannabis sales in real-time from the unofficial cannabis holiday. It reports that more than $100 million was spent on cannabis products on April 20, with sales reaching upwards to $160,000 per minute. Watch it happen in real time in the video above.

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Weed-Funded Rec Center Opens in Aurora, Colorado

The city of Aurora, Colorado hosted a grand opening on Tuesday for its brand new 77,000-square foot, nearly $42 million recreational facility that was funded entirely by tax revenue generated from legal marijuana sales. 

Known as the “Southeast Recreation Center and Fieldhouse,” the facility boasts a slew of amenities, according to local news station KDVR: “A 23,000-square-foot fieldhouse with temperature controlled indoor environment; A full-sized field with professional-grade turf; An 8,000-square-foot multiuse gymnasium [that] will be able to accommodate one main basketball court, two cross basketball courts, two volleyball courts or three pickleball courts; A 1/9-mile long track elevated above the fitness area and gymnasium; A 7,600-square-foot fitness area with state-of-the-art equipment, including: A functional fitness area; An outdoor fitness space; A fitness studio; A large community room; [and a] natatorium, which in turn is comprised of: A 125,000-gallon swimming pool with a maximum depth of seven feet; A spa pool with water jets; A leisure pool that includes a 25-yard, four-lane lap pool, a lazy river, and a 20-foot-tall waterslide.” 

The city broke ground on the facility in early 2021, and it is the second new recreational facility to open in Aurora in the last four years.

The other rec center, which opened in 2019, was also funded by taxes from marijuana sales, according to KDVR. The news outlet Westworld reported that the Aurora City Council in 2020 “approved increasing the city’s sales tax on recreational marijuana from 7.75 percent to 8.75 percent, with the additional revenues going to fund youth violence prevention projects.” 

“We are excited to open our newest recreation center and fieldhouse,” Brooke Bell, the director of the Aurora Parks, Recreation and Open Space, said in a press release from the city earlier this month. “After an extensive community engagement process, the feedback received guided the creation of this exceptional facility; we look forward to the community enjoying the space they helped envision for years to come.”

In the press release, the city said that the Southeast Recreation Center is located “near several neighborhoods and the Aurora Reservoir,” and that “the center is a regional destination boasting the first indoor fieldhouse within the city in addition to a variety of other amenities and breathtaking views of the Colorado mountains.”

The construction of the two recreational facilities in Aurora serve as “proof of concept” for advocates who helped Colorado become one of the first two states to legalize recreational cannabis a little more than a decade ago when voters there approved Amendment 64. 

Supporters of marijuana legalization have long contended that a regulated cannabis retail market could be an economic boon for state and local governments. 

“Colorado did what no one had done before,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said at an event in October commemorating the 10th anniversary of the state’s legalization measure, as quoted by the Denver Gazette. “With voter [approval] of Amendment 64, we made history and therefore it is fitting that we are celebrating today 10 years here at History Colorado.”

Polis, a Democrat, has worked to strengthen the marijuana law. Last summer, he signed an executive order “to ensure that no Coloradan is subject to penalization for the possession, cultivation, or use of marijuana as this substance is legal in Colorado as a result of Amendment 64,” his office announced at the time.

“The exclusion of people from the workforce because of marijuana-related activities that are lawful in Colorado, but still criminally penalized in other states, hinders our residents, economy and our State. No one who lawfully consumes, possesses, cultivates or processes marijuana pursuant to Colorado law should be subject to professional sanctions or denied a professional license in Colorado. This includes individuals who consume, possess, cultivate or process marijuana in another state in a manner that would be legal under Colorado law,” Polis said in a statement.

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Colorado Gov. Announces 16 Recipients of Cannabis Business Grant

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis last week announced the first businesses to receive funding through the state’s Cannabis Business Pilot Grant.

A total of 16 aspiring cannabis retailers received the grants through a program that seeks “to save small businesses money, foster equity and diversity in the cannabis industry, and create good-paying jobs for Coloradans.”

“Our nation-leading work promoting equity and supporting innovation in Colorado’s thriving cannabis industry supports our economy, saves small businesses money, and ensures our state remains the best business-friendly destination in the country,” Polis, a Democrat, said in a statement on Thursday. “I’m proud to see this multi-year effort result in transformative grants to deserving applicants.”

The pilot grant program is part of a concerted effort to ensure that the state-regulated cannabis market benefits individuals from communities that have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs.

In addition to facilitating economic opportunities through its new marijuana law, Colorado, like other states, have also offered a pathway for previous pot-related offenders to clean their record.

In January, Polis rang in the new year with an executive order that granted pardons to more than 1,300 individuals who had been convicted of possession of two ounces or less of cannabis.

The executive order was a byproduct of a bill signed into law by Polis that “authorized the Governor to grant pardons to a class of defendants who were convicted of the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana,” according to Polis’s office.

“Adults can legally possess marijuana in Colorado, just as they can beer or wine. It’s unfair that 1,351 additional Coloradans had permanent blemishes on their record that interfered with employment, credit, and gun ownership, but today we have fixed that by pardoning their possession of small amounts of marijuana that occurred during the failed prohibition era,” Polis said in a statement at the time.

The grants awarded by the Polis administration last week are described as “a funding opportunity for social equity cannabis businesses who have been awarded, or are actively pursuing, a regulated business license from the Marijuana Enforcement Division,” according to the state, which said the program “was developed to support cannabis entrepreneurs through access to capital to promote social equity, innovation, and job creation across the industry.”

Recipients of the grants may receive a maximum of $25,000 or $50,000.

The program is administered by the state’s Cannabis Business Office, which “provided grant applicants with educational and professional development opportunities as a part of the grant-making process,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The press release said that applicants “were required to complete a business development curriculum and create business plans and project proposals,” which included online learning modules.

Under the terms of the program, if the applicant did not include the training by the time the application was submitted, they were then given “21 calendar days to complete the technical assistance or forfeit their grant application submission and potential grant award.”

“The grant process was designed to ultimately prepare applicants with the foundational knowledge and materials for future success, as well as equip those in Colorado’s Cannabis Industry with a robust skillset to continue our state’s leadership in the space,” the press release said.

The 16 businesses selected to receive the first round of grant funding are: Apollo Limited; Canna-Couriers; Colorado Kush; Cb1 Logistics; Delta-9; Different Strokes 2.0 Puff N Paint Sip Art Studio; Flora Cannabis; Go Harvest LLC; Grn Bus; IDY Packaging Distributors; Kaylx Brands; Meta-Zon CannClub; Mile High Lounge (Ganja Games); Paly;; and Tetra Hospitality Group.

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